The science behind Shakalakaboomboom ...

Pineau  De Re on his way to winning the 2014 Grand National. Pic: John Giles/PA Wire
Pineau De Re on his way to winning the 2014 Grand National. Pic: John Giles/PA Wire

By Fiona Dobie

In fact it’s something that captures my attention every year - and I’ve no idea why.

Can anyone shed any light on what exactly it is about the Grand National that suddenly makes everyone in the country want to have a little flutter?

For 364 days of the year, a large percentage of the population - me included - has absolutely no interest in horse racing.

However come that weekend at the start of April when the crowds gather at Aintree for the National, we’re all suddenly interested.

I’m not really a numbers person, myself and the figures, we don’t really agree too well.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t have a clue how betting odds work.

No matter how many times someone may try to explain it, the understanding completely bypasses me.

On the plus side, there’s no need to worry about me being a regular gambler - the not understanding makes me anything but.

When it comes to picking which horse to take a punt on, I’m clueless.

Feel free to talk to me about form - one thing’s for certain, I won’t be listening.

Tell me to look at the odds. Okay - but the numbers mean nothing. Is it better for the first or second number to be higher? Is it good if the numbers are close together? How much will I make if I bet £5 on this horse? Eh, don’t ask me...

The whole thing completely washes over the top of my head.

I’ve found a much more scientific and logical way of picking which horse to support.

It’s simple, if a tad girly.

Now don’t laugh, but for me it all comes down to the name of the horse.

What’s in a name? The answer when it comes to horses for me is everything.

Forget the statistics and any numbers, for me it’s a case of picking the horse with the name I like best.

Oh, or the horse whose jockey is wearing the nicest colours.

You don’t want to support one with a lame name do you? Or one whose jockey looks ridiculous in a gawdy outfit?

I’m not saying it’s always the winning formula, but if you’re as clueless as me about these things then it’s as good a way as any to pick the horse.

It’s a tactic I follow every time and it’s similar to the way I’ll pick a bottle of wine.

There’s none of that reading the label to find out about the wine’s characteristics - if there’s a good name or a nice, appealing picture on the bottle then it’s in the shopping basket.

Slight diversion...and back to the horses.

This year’s horse selection in the National for me was Shakalakaboomboom.

Now, I know it isn’t the catchiest of names, but I liked it.

I paid no attention to the odds, just the name and when asked by my husband if I wanted him to put the money on each way I told him that he should do whatever he wanted.

Settling down to watch the race I figured it was a good thing not to have heard my horse’s name called by the commentator after the first fence. He was still going.

They jumped a number of other fences - still no mention of Shakalakaboomboom.

He clearly wasn’t in front, but he hadn’t fallen either. There was still a little hope that he’d finish in the top five and I’d still get some kind of return on my money.

But then, all of a sudden my hope was gone, quick as a flash. The first mention of my horse’s excellent name...he’s pulled up at fence 20 and out of the race.

And it was on that note that I started questioning why I’d been so excited about the race again this year.

I never seem to pick a winner... maybe it’s time for a new tactic... the horse with the prettiest mane?